16 April 2016

Edinburgh, Scotland

The opening scene of the movie TRAINSPOTTING, based on the novel with the same by Irvine Welsh, is set in Edinburgh. With Iggy Pops ‘Lust for life’ on the soundtrack, Mark "Rent Boy" Renton (Ewan McGregor) and Daniel "Spud" Murphy (Ewen Bremner) are running through the streets of the Scottish capital after they have been caught shoplifting. Like most of their friends, they are drug addicts.

Edinburgh Castle, 28 July 2011
Their addiction will eventually put their friendship under pressure. The movie was filmed in 35 days during the summer of 1995. Although mainly set in Edinburgh, most scenes were shot in Glasgow. There were also location shoots in London and at the Corrour railway station in the Scottish Highlands. The day we arrived in Edinburgh, the weather was warm and sunny but the following day it rained continuously. The skyline of the city is being dominated by Edinburgh Castle, situated above the other buildings. In the movie a glimpse of the fortress can be seen.

The chase starts in Princes Street, a busy shopping street in the centre of the city. The first shot of the film shows the street in eastern direction. In the background are two towers visible: on the left hotel The Balmoral and on the righ the monument to honour Sir Walter Scott, author of amongst others ‘Ivanhoe’.

Trainspotting, 0:00:24
Princes Street, Edinburgh, 28 July 2011

Our visit was 16 years after filming and in the meantime most shop entrances have been changed, we did not recognize a single shop. This shot faces towards the west, with the church towers of Saint John’s and Saint Andrew’s in the background.

Trainspotting, 0:00:29
Princes Street, Edinburgh, 28 July 2011

Renton runs to Calton Road by using the stairs between the two streets. Halfway the stairs is the entrance to The Black Bull cafe but it cannot be seen in the film. While Murphy is still being chased, running under the bridge towards Waverly Station, Renton is nearly hit by a car. He laughs at the driver (or basically, at the camera).

Trainspotting, 0:00:35
Calton Road, Edinburgh, 28 July 2011
Trainspotting, 0:00:45
Calton Road, Edinburgh, 28 July 2011
Trainspotting, 0:00:48
Calton Road, Edinburgh, 28 July 2011

Halfway into the movie it is shown how the shoplifting started. Besides Renton and Murphy also Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) is involved. When they walk into news paper agency John Menzies it is being shown by filming their reflection of the store frontage. In the background a bus stop is seen and a small part of Edinburgh Castle. To clarify the situation I have also added the complete photo of the castle seen from Princes Street.

Trainspotting, 0:35:47
Princes Street, Edinburgh, 28 July 2011
Princes Street, Edinburgh, 28 July 2011

National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 29 July 2011
Williamson quickly escapes from the security guards while Renton and Murphy are running on Hanover Street. Behind them is the building of the Royal Scottish Academy. This organization for contemporary Scottish art shares its exhibition rooms with the National Gallery of Scotland. During our visit the exhibition ‘The Queen - Art & Image’ was on display, to commemorate the 60-year reigning jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, showing portraits of the British royal through the years.
Outside the building was a photo taken in 2004.

It was never used as an official portrait because the eyes of the Queen are closed but photographer Chris Levine was given permission by Buckingham Palace to show the photo at the exhibition.

Trainspotting, 0:40:13
Royal Scottish Academy, Hanover Street, Edinburgh, 28 July 2011

Screenshots © Channel Four Films